Actor Barred From Flight Due to Turban Accepts Airline's Apology
PHOTO: Actor Waris Ahluwala was barred from boarding an Aeromexico flight due to his refusal to remove his Sikh turban. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Indian-American actor Waris Ahluwalia has accepted an apology from Mexican airline Aeromexico just two days after he was not allowed to board a flight due to his refusal to remove his Sikh turban during a security screening.
According to Darius Johnson and Catherine E. Shoichet of CNN.com, the incident began Monday when Ahluwalia was attempting to board his flight from Mexico City to New York City at 7:15 a.m. local time.
When Ahluwalia arrived at the Mexico City International Airport boarding gate, security personal requested that he remove his turban. After he refused to remove his turban in a public setting, Aeromexico employees would not allow him to board his flight, recommending that he should buy a ticket with another airline.
Instead of changing airlines, Ahluwalia took a stand and refused to leave Mexico City until he received an apology and assurance that staff of the airline would receive the proper religious sensitivity training.
When asked about his peaceful response to the incident, Ahluwalia spoke to CNN.com about how he controlled his anger and how he wanted to turn the situation into a learning experience:
“I was upset, I had anxiety, I was shaking, I did not speak. And then I realized, clearly, they have not been trained properly. I knew yelling will not do anything. It is about education and the policy.”
On Tuesday, Aeromexico issued a formal apology to the actor regarding how he was treated by staff members the previous day. The airline also pledged to improve education for employees regarding religious customs.
ABCNews.com shared Aeromexico’s apology and plans to reconcile the situation:
“Aeromexico is a global airline that operates flights in different countries throughout the world, and proudly embraces and recognizes the diversity of its passengers. Every day we work to ensure strict compliance with the highest safety standards while we respect and value the culture and beliefs of our customers.”
“We apologize to Mr. Waris Ahluwalia for the unfortunate experience he encountered with one of our security guards during the boarding process on his flight to New York at the Mexico City International Airport. This incident inspires us to make sure that our safety personnel strengthens its customer service protocols, with full respect for the cultural and religious values of our customers.”
Ahluwalia’s representatives, the Sikh Coalition, issued a statement saying the apology had been accepted and that the actor would finally be flying back to New York on Wednesday after hearing the company’s plans to improve its personnel’s tolerance education.
The Mexican airline also stated that it will file a request with the government to assist in new religious and diversity training for staff members moving forward.
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